First in a series about making it as an independent consultant
If you’re going to make it as an independent consultant, marketing yourself needs to be a top priority. It takes time, some resources, and a bit of bravado. But fortunately, you don’t have to be a marketing master to get potential clients to notice you.
Before you even get into the 7 tactics, you need to determine what you are going to be known for – are you going to be an expert in something that’s more functionally oriented, like growth strategy, turnaround, supply chain optimization or a specific issue, such as, omni-channel, patient journeys, digital transformation, etc. Without a focus to be known for you are just another consultant who can do stuff and your billable rates will be lower.
Once you have a defined focus, your marketing tactics should consistently support this focus, collectively delivering greater ROI on your efforts.
Many of the same marketing strategies and tactics that work for big companies also work for individuals. Experiment with these seven trusted tactics and find the ones that work best for you.
- Website. It’s inevitable: potential clients will search your name to learn more about you. So, make it easy for them. Buy your own domain (e.g. www.johnsmith.com) and invest in a little bit of Web design to showcase your experience and portfolio.
- Blog. The best way to sell your value and command a premium price is to share your expertise. If you don’t like to write, start a podcast or YouTube channel.
- Publish a newsletter. Selling is all about building a relationship, and email marketing is an excellent tool. Create a brief, but regular newsletter to promote your blog content, and share tips, tools and industry news.
- Advertise. Take advantage of targeted advertising on social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. These advertising platforms allow you to define your ideal customer precisely – for example, CIOs in San Francisco – and promote your services with an offer designed specifically for them. It’s a cost-effective way of getting your brand in front of the right people.
- Work your professional network. Social media has its place, but your personal network is priceless. Meet former colleagues and business partners for coffee, lunch or drinks. These conversations may not bear fruit for months or even years, but ultimately they are a great source of referrals.
- Join a independent consultant network. Look for firms that specialize in placing interim talent. Not only do they have the inside track on corporate gigs, but they greatly expand your network and selling power.
- Speaking opportunities. Get in front of your target customers by presenting at events, conferences and workshops they’re likely to attend. Not only does this build your credibility as an expert in your field, but the face-to-face time you spend with potential clients will establish personal connections that virtual introductions can’t match.
It may take some time to get in the habit of promoting yourself. But even as your calendar fills with projects, it’s important not to neglect your marketing efforts. An active personal brand is essential for keeping the sales pipeline full of opportunities.